It’s time to throw any excuses for the Kansas City Chiefs in the trash

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: The Kansas City Chiefs huddle against the New York Giants during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 19, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: The Kansas City Chiefs huddle against the New York Giants during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 19, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Every week we see new and old excuses on why the Kansas City Chiefs have not been getting the job done on either side of the ball. Time to throw them away.

The Kansas City Chiefs have been in a major slump lately, going 1-4 in their last 5 games after starting off the season on an MVP level of 5-0. There’s plenty of blame to go around and excuses that we’ve all made for this team, but it’s time to put that to an end. Excuses aren’t going to get this team more wins.

It all started with the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying that they just have our number and we were due for a bad game. The loss to the Oakland Raiders was blamed on the refs and crazy plays at the end. The loss to Dallas came down to the team looking forward to the bye week. Well, there are no excuses on the planet that make the loss to the New York Giants acceptable.

Many fans want to point the blame at one group over the other in these miserable losses but there is plenty of blame to go around. Neither side of the ball is playing at a level to win a Super Bowl this year.

Most of the blame lands on the defense even when the offense has been shy of mediocre lately and fans are trying to keep the first five games of offense locked in their head. I’m sorry to bring this up but the offense has been the issue more than the defense in many of these games, if you can believe it.

The NFL is a league that is based on what have you done for me lately and the offense hasn’t done much of anything good lately. Everyone wanted to talk about this is a new offense this year because of the first five games, but what about the last five games?

The only reason that the Chiefs are still in the lead of the AFC West at this point is that the Los Angeles Chargers started the season off in a rough patch and the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos continue to slide collecting losses. If the Chiefs lose this weekend, they will only be a game ahead of the Chargers with another half-game having the tiebreaker.

Alex Smith

Starting quarterback Alex Smith has been declining week by week and it has been very hard to watch. It makes it even harder to watch when we saw him play the best football of his career in the beginning of the season, only for him to regress to his former self this last month. Smith has received the majority of the excuses from fans who are in denial of his bad play, but as the quarterback, he has to overcome and play better than he has recently.

I’ve tried to give Smith as much leeway as possible and support him with what we saw early on, but I can’t anymore. It’s plain and simple; he’s playing bad football. Many of the excuses I have seen for Smith are that his offensive line has been awful, receivers Albert Wilson and Chris Conley are out, and playcalling are the reasons he isn’t having much success.

While you can look at all of those and say that they are affecting his game, they are all blown out of proportion and not keeping Smith from getting the job done. Even if all three of these are big issues, making excuses for them isn’t going to win you anything. Smith also has to be the guy to step up and overcome obstacles to lead his team. Every team has issues, Smith needs to lead his team when there are struggles and he has failed to as of late.

While there have been no doubt struggles on the offensive line, it has been playing well enough for Smith to be able to make plays. Especially against the New York Giants this last week, Smith had plenty of times that he could have made plays but got happy feet. Week by week, Smith’s pocket presence has gone downhill and he’s often seen running into his own linemen trying to escape.

Everyone wants to give him the excuse that he has been under this mass amount of pressure and we act like this is something new. In the early part of the season, the Chiefs faced numerous elite pass rushing teams that had more pressure on Smith than these last few weeks. The difference then was that Smith was able to maneuver around the pocket and sometimes outside of the pocket with his eyes down the field to make a play.

That has been lacking this last month as Smith has felt pressure from far away (or caved in to what isn’t there), only to tuck the ball and run. More and more we see Smith not trusting his line to be able to focus downfield and make a play. This has resulted in a very high rate of missed opportunities coming open.

This play is one of the worst I’ve seen over the last couple weeks. Smith didn’t trust his tackle to push his guy around the backside like tackles are supposed to. Instead of stepping up into the pocket and passing to either route at the top of the screen or bottom that come wide open, he abandons the play and takes a sack instead.

The last two games I have counted 14 plays where Smith has missed receivers coming open due to happy feet or throwing the check down early before any pressure. This is a big difference between getting a yard or two and scoring touchdowns in many of these instances.

Smith has been really inaccurate in throws lately as well. There are no excuses for missing this throw. That includes excuses about the wind.

Andy Reid

Head coach Andy Reid has much of the blame for the offense’s lack of productivity as well. The playcalling recently has gone straight back to the 2016 playbook instead of sticking to the aggressive play of the 2017 opening games.

In the first few games of the season, there were numerous plays that I couldn’t believe I was seeing from this offense. Great passes from Alex Smith to receivers and even his running back deep down the field. Much of this was due to great play design by Reid.

The offense was, at one point, the highest in scoring this season. The team was looking unstoppable as they took down the defending Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots, on the season’s opening night with an aggressive offense. The Chiefs put their foot down on the opponent’s throat instead of allowing them to remain close.

That has completely changed, especially considering the fact that the Chiefs are struggling to even win a game at this point. Reid has gone back to his conservative playcalling with the trick and gimmicky plays. Instead of the well designed plays that allow receivers to get open and trick defenses, K.C. is circled back to screen plays and short curls.

Reid has also cut the legs out from under the offense as he continues to either go away from the run when it’s picking up momentum or completely going away from it entirely. There is no excuse for this when you have one of the best rushers in the league in Kareem Hunt. A rookie running back that was breaking records all of his first five games has somehow been forgotten about.

Teams are focusing on the run game and stopping running back Kareem Hunt after an MVP start to the season. Reid and the offense aren’t helping that problem by not attacking deep to punish defenses for focusing on the run. This is a huge reason the run game has been poor. Yes, the blocking has not been great for Hunt, but it makes it worse when you allow defenses to just focus on stopping the run.

Even without Conley and Wilson playing, there’s no reason this offense shouldn’t be able to play better. There are still numerous top weapons that are at the top of their league in their respected positions. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Kareem Hunt are more than enough for an offense to have success. Even second-year receiver Demarcus Robinson has looked good, but Reid and Smith have failed to get him the ball.

Reid continues to design plays for back up tight ends that are known for dropping passes on key situations trying to outsmart the defense instead of getting his playmakers the ball. He’s also not using his stars to their full potential. Having Hill run screen plays all game against the Giants outside of one deep throw is a slap in the face.

Offensive Line Struggles

The Chiefs spent about a month without multiple of its starters in center Mitch Morse and left guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Match that with some players not playing as well as they have been known for. The offensive line as a whole is not an elite line with or without its starters. We have to realize that we can’t expect elite play from this line. This isn’t the Cowboys line here.

While left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz have both had some really good games, they’ve also had some forgettable games as well. Schwartz has done really well against divisional opponents—that’s good considering the pass rushers in the West. Outside of those games it’s been hit or miss with him though.

With all of the different players coming in and out of the line from week to week, it makes it difficult for the line to gain a rhythm. Offensive lines have to be able to trust the guys next to them and understand what each guy can and cannot do. When you are changing out guys by the week, it’s hard for them to gain a consistent rhythm as a unit.

Bob Sutton and the Defense

Most of the blame from Chiefs Kingdom has landed on the defense and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton rightfully so. This is not the defense that we had last year even though much of the personnel is the same. The defense that lead the league in takeaways last year and big plays has been very quiet as of this year.

Name your part of the defense, it has struggled. This defense is built around safety Eric Berry, cornerback Marcus Peters, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, and outside linebacker Justin Houston. Berry is out for the season and DJ has not been his dominant self which is really hurting this defense.

Many fans have lashed out calling for Sutton’s head for failing to adjust with the losses and lack of dominant play from players. In the last couple of games, Sutton has done a good job at adjusting. We have seen more two middle linebacker sets using inside linebackers Kevin Pierre-Louis and Reggie Ragland more. Both of which have looked really good these last two games.

This formation, instead of bringing a safety down inside the box, has really helped slow down the run game of opponents. One of the best rushers in the league in Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott was held to just 3.4 yards per carry before the bye week.

The issue is that the cornerbacks have struggled to play man to man coverage without any help. Teams are still going away from Peters side of the field but the team struggles to find something that works on the right side of the defense. The Chiefs have cycled out Kenneth Acker and Phillip Gaines in their attempt to find something better than Terrance Mitchell and nothing has come close to working.

Both Gaines and Acker looked pitiful putting it nicely. Sutton continues to play his corners way off their receivers which in my opinion is something that really made Mitchell struggle being the physical corner that he is.

The team just brought in free agent Darrelle Revis in hopes that they can fix the problem on that side of the secondary. While no one expects Revis to be his younger top of the league self, he could still be a big upgrade of what they have at the moment.

The front half of the defense hasn’t been able to help the secondary in getting to the quarterback this year as well. Everyone was really excited about the return of Justin Houston but without someone on the other side of him, offenses are keying and game planning for him. Outside linebacker Dee Ford missed a considerable amount of time with a back injury, outside linebacker Frank Zombo has never been a pass rusher, and outside linebacker Tamba Hali is being saved for the playoff push.

Add that to the defensive line not being able to get much pressure either its giving quarterbacks way too much time in the pocket to wait for something to come open. Asking your secondary to cover receivers for 5-7 seconds every down is impossible.

It’s on the team

We can sit here and point the finger all over this team and coaching staff but at the end of the day, the whole group has to do better. It doesn’t matter which side of the ball you think should get more blame, if both don’t step up we can kiss the hope of a Super Bowl goodbye. If this offense can’t get back to scoring like it did early in the season we are done. We have seen what it looks like with a strong defense but weaker offense, that ends at the divisional round.